Time to cast a Raise spell on JRPGs

Megami Tensei Series

No doubt gamers have touched or heard about the Persona RPG series, with the most recent entry being Persona 4 Golden. These games are under the Megami Tensei brand, a series known for offering players multiple endings through the philosophical choices they make and a demon party-recruiting and negotiating system.

It took a long while for developer Atlus to get its series to enjoy mainstream relevance outside of Japan. The first of these titles to get localised was the first Persona title called Revelations: Persona in the overseas market back in 1996 before the JRPG boom that happened a year later with Final Fantasy VII.

To say that the RPG wasn’t a perfect translation was an understatement; Atlus at the time had a tough time “Americanizing” a game steeped with Japanese culture. Every party member’s name and looks were changed up to sound like they came out from Beverly Hills 90210.

More after the break...

Cult following

Regardless, it amassed a cult following. Revelations: Persona got the then-small JRPG community in the USA talking, which justified Atlus to releasing the sequel Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in North America in 2000. In 2004 and beyond, the third mothership title made it out in English as Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, and was received well.

A few spin-offs later, Atlus hit the mainstream eye with Persona 3 and 4 at the tail end of the PS2’s life cycle. The two games were praised by critics and gamers for their supernatural-laced narratives set in contemporary times and its social link mechanic that encourages players to make friends and expand the story. While not breaking in the millions on its debut, the games have a sizeable following in Japan. In May of this year, Shin Megami Tensei IV sold 188,562 units on its opening week.

The North American branch’s perseverance in catering to their niche audience and picking the more relevant titles to localise from the insanely huge Megami Tensei line-up help raised the series’ awareness to critics and mainstream JRPG fans. Even with the recent Atlus buyout by Sega that’s causing a production stir, that isn’t stopping the development team and Persona 4 director Katsura Hashino from making a fifth Persona game.

You have to login or register to comment.